With the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe, it was only a matter of time before Marvel Entertainment began to make its way onto other formats. With the cost of motion pictures these days, I’m sure the home video front is almost an even more lucrative option. Now, Marvel is hitting Blu-ray with a full-length animated motion picture on December 3, with the mash up Iron Man & Hulk: Heroes United. While not living up to the likes of the cinematic endeavors, at least the feature is better than most video babysitters.
In this tale, we find Hulk (voiced by Fred Tatasciore) duking it out with Abomination (voiced by Robin Atkin Downes) who is working for HYDRA’s Dr. Fump (Downes again) and Dr. Cruler (voiced by Dee Bradley Baker). The two HYDRA doctors want to use Hulk and Abomination’s radiation to power their arc reactor, but in the process create an energy-devouring monster called ZZZax (Baker again). Now, Iron Man (voiced by Adrian Pasdar) and Hulk must band together — with the help of Jarvis (voiced by David Kaye) — to keep ZZZax from destroying the planet’s energy resources.
Disney is known for their home video transfers and this is no exception. Presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio on a 50GB Blu-ray disc, you’d expect nothing less than a first-rate transfer. Especially considering there’s not even 90 minutes of content, including the special features. Aside from a blink and you’ll miss it case of macroblocking in some dust-filled shots and the slightest bit of aliasing along Hulk’s skin in another, you have everything you’d expect out of a digitally-created feature.
Ironically, the DVD version included looks less realistic and far more cartoonish. If you’re buying the Blu-ray, stick to that disc. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is also everything you’d expect from a Disney/Marvel track; especially one featuring Iron Man and Hulk. The smashing action sequences assault from all speakers and the LFE will rattle the most secluded home theater. Keep volume levels in check or you may wind up having to place a few things back on the wall. Also included are French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital audio tracks, along with English SDH, French, and Spanish subtitles which are also available in the first featurette.
The special features may be rather scant, but are hugely enjoyable. First there’s an 11-minute featurette: “Marvel Team-Up with Ryan Penagos and Joe Q” featuring Penagos (Marvel’s Agent M — Executive Director, Marvel Digital Media Group who also oversees Marvel.com) and Joe Quesada (Chief Creative Officer, Marvel Entertainment). Filmed inside Meltdown Comics and Collectibles, the two offer up inside scoops about their rise within Marvel Comics including their own standoff upon first meeting. It’s more fun than you’d think to listen to two fanboys talk about how their dreams came true within Marvel. Also included are three “Marvel Mash-Ups” episodes including “SHIELD,” “Betty Ross,” and “Lil’ Hulk.” These are every bit as hilarious as the G.I. Joe PSA’s and a lot more episodes are available on YouTube.
If the Marvel Cinematic Universe didn’t exist, these animated adventures may be the monetary investment Disney thinks they are. Seeing how Iron Man & Hulk: Heroes United is clearly aimed at younger viewers and fanboys, it’s a fine enough addition considering its first-class video and audio. The downside being that it feels like a Saturday morning cartoon stretched to feature length, making the $24.99 (as of this writing) price feel a bit steep considering that’s the same price as one of the theatrical releases. Featuring not-so-groundbreaking animation (as pretty as it may be) and only two special features that only amount to less than 20 minutes, I’d say that Marvel needs to step up their home video game on their next outing.